Monday, July 6, 2009

the fox and the fall

Yes, the marauder in question is a red fox. I got a call from my neighbor Katie, telling me our neighbor Ed witnessed a fox carrying a duck in its jaws and running down the hill and over the creek. This happened around dawn. As I write you, the chicken coop is latched and locked and I am glad to report no other animals were lost today. I now know what to look for, and hopefully I can stop this fox in its tracks or do something to better fence and pen my birds. I am already taking the dogs out at night to relieve themselves at the poultry house—hoping the scent of wolves will make the red one turn tail. I do what I can.

On a lighter note: The garden is thriving. What a glorious sight! Corn is shooting up towards my waist. The pumpkins vines are thick and dark. Squashes are starting to rise and peas snap into my mouth like sugar water candies. Tonight I dine on a dinner of skillet-steamed broccoli over an egg and couscous stir fry. Homesteaders work like dogs but eat like kings.

And I was able to share some of the bounty this weekend too. Before I drove south to Pennsylvania I loaded the car with my contributions to the family feasting. I brought a giant bag of vegetables and a dozen farm eggs. I baked all weekend. I made pizza and apple pies and a fine quiche with a buttery crust. It's a good feeling, taking care of people's hunger. Giving them something to eat and enjoy you are directly responsible for. I know that's an old song. It doesn't mean it's not true.

This morning when I woke up there was a slight chill in the air. Just enough to cause me to see my breath at 5:30 AM. I watched it rise up into the oaks and watched it come out of the honking geese's bills like smoke. With the solstice behind us each day gets just a little colder, a little shorter... Soon it will be October again and I will be so very happy. A season comes to replace another. My breath is always baited for the falls.

P.S. My camera is fixed. More new photos soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

found this when doing a web search - had read somewhere about using human hair to deter slugs (I think) around the garden . . this link says it can be used to deter foxes

July 6, 2009 at 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog has such a nice pace. Sort of like your life probably. We are headed in that direction, but we have to do it from a micro-sized lot in an oil/gas city. Not quite the same as the idyllic life that you have been able to establish. I am a little (more than a little) jealous.

July 6, 2009 at 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Annie said...

I love to cook for people who like to eat. Too bad I am not married to one! Beware of men who are indifferent to food and wine. :) Sounds like a fine time was had by all.

Hope you have luck getting rid of that fox. Those bastards will keep coming back as long as they have any chance of getting a free meal.

July 6, 2009 at 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your book, and your blog!! I'm on 5 acres in Indiana, and in a fight to the death with racoons, possums and possibly weasels!! I lost 2 hens last week. I feel your pain!! :)
Anyway, I couldn't help think about an old folk song when you were talking about your red fox. The song is called,..well..the fox. It was remade by the group Nickel Creek a few years back. I love that song, although the fox took a goose, not a duck,..but still!
Anyway, good luck with him and everything you're doing!!

July 7, 2009 at 1:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, since I have never heard you talk about your favorite varmit rifle, or even admit to owning even a .22 rifle, here is the total gun hating/pacifist solution to your red fox dilemma.
The "Havahart Live trap", and I'm sure that you know what they are, or could find out very easily.
We have chickens and rabbits and even though the property is completly fenced now, I still had a coon try and take a bird a few weeks ago.
They can climb even our 6 foot fence, but he found out that he was not .22 proof.
I just happened to be in the garage late and heard the commotion and my .22 rifle has a flashlight attached, and you can guess the rest.
But back to the fox, just prior to the fence being completed, we caught an adult red fox in our large (racoon size) Havahart trap close to our animals.
If you get a live trap, and bait it "Right", you stand a very good chance of catching your red fox, and all without harming a hair on his/her precious little head.
What you do with said fox after his safe capture, is completly up to you.
Of course after they get a taste of livestock of any kind, they will never stop their wayward bad habits.
If you drive it over into the next county and release it, you just made your problem, someone else's livestock killing problem, so consider that.
Usually for the squemish, a call to animal control and you can keep your hands clean.
Before the fence we used to catch at least 1 skunk or possum, or racoon every week, all year long.
I know you can't really fence a rental property, and good fence is pretty expensive.
With all our animals, and our very large garden/orchard, we decided it was worth the cost for us, or face year round losses of everything from fruit and veggies, to chickens and rabbits.
Did I mention it was really expensive to put up the fence...?
Since you are gone much of the day, your best bet at protecting your animals is probably going to be some form of trap.
And since you never know what you will catch, a live trap is really your only humane option.
If you happen to catch the neighbors cat/dog for example, no harm no foul, you just release them (unharmed, but wise to the trap) and try for the fox the next day.
I hope this helps more than the others just saying "Good luck"... with no suggestions as to how to solve the problem.

July 7, 2009 at 3:56 AM  
Blogger Rachel B. said...

I finished your book! It was very good. I'm a little young yet to start homesteading myself but starting small is the way to go. My veggies are triving and I enjoy going to the farmer's market every week to drool over local honey, fresh veggies (although my mother claims that some of the produce might come from Lancaster about 2 hours away but it's still closer than California!). Your novel is very inspiring, it made me want to run to the Kutztown Folk Festival, sadly because of my lack of trasportation I was made to say home.
I'm glad you found out what was taking your livestock! My neighbor use to keep chickens and turkeys. Aside from the road taking, they had a little too much free range, them a fox would as well.

July 7, 2009 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger The Craigs said...

Ok, Jenna, woman armed with a .22- did you live in Tennessee long enough to learn what we'd do to a livestock eatin' varmit?
Let's just say that hides dress up an outbuilding real nice..
Hey, IndianaCraig, if you read this, you've met another Nickel Creek fan, and another Craig! Though my husband's and my families originally helped settle VA, we now live in Atlanta and are searching for our own slice of heaven in Tennessee, which is my home state!

July 7, 2009 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger L said...

I love your blog and your writing. I hope in the future you'll consider changing your homestead over to a predator friendly place. (See and
Predator friendly practices align the stewardship approach that many homesteaders and farmers attempt to take with their domesticated animals with those animals that support the ecosystem that provides food for your domesticated animals.

July 7, 2009 at 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear you discovered it was a red fox. I actually stopped over to your blog this evening to suggest it but saw you had already found your theif. I thought of it because last night around 8:30 I was looking out over our neighbor's field and I caught a glimpse of movement. From behind the day lilies crept out a red fox who, no doubtedly, was on his way to check out our neighbor's chicken coop. Luckily they have since kept their young hens penned in more since their major loss last year. But that's when I thought of you. Best of luck detering the animal.

July 7, 2009 at 6:56 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

ouch on the fox! good luck with that. No, not october yet!!

July 7, 2009 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't think human hair or any other repellent will work for a fox; they get to be pretty bold. You can try a live trap, but you'll have to release it a long way away or else it will just come back. But it is an option; however, if you release it somewhere else, I'd not load it in your car because you wouldn't want a wild animal in the same space where you have your domestic animals. Most foxes I've encountered have had fleas, and one fox that my dad's dog caught had mange, which is highly communicable. Poor Oscar had to endure medication as well as 2 or 3very smelly medicated baths.

July 7, 2009 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Carol Murdock said...

jenna, would love to see photos of your garden!

July 8, 2009 at 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pizza was great and Madeline sure loves you (she said I love Jen too)!! It was great seeing you and you left your jam!!! We'll talk soon :) Hope all is well

July 8, 2009 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Von said...

Beautiful scene! I can just picture those geese! Chilly!Keep warm and fed!

July 8, 2009 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Offwhiteknight said...

You know you are too far north when you can see your breath in July :) J/K. Really that is the biggest reason I can't make my mind up about moving from KY to northern MI with the rest of my family. Beautiful country up there,but geez is it cold. I visited at the the beginning of this month, and it was only about 60-65 degrees. My mom says it warmed up once I left, but I don't believe it.

July 17, 2009 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Offwhiteknight said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 17, 2009 at 1:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home